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As school boards grapple with what classrooms will look like when students return in a few weeks, the outdoors could likely play a big part in the school day amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Health experts have said the novel coronavirus has less of a chance to spread in outdoor settings, which also allow for easier physical distancing. Combined with concerns around children’s safety as they return to classrooms this fall, that has put a spotlight on “forest schools” in which students learn through interaction with nature.

Advocates of the schools have long touted the benefits of children spending more time outside.

“When you walk outdoors, you’re interacting with wildlife, with people, with history,” said Andrew McMartin, executive director of the Pine Project, which has been operating in the Toronto area for about a decade.

“You’re interacting with technology. You’re moving your body.” 

Andrew McMartin, executive director of the Pine Project, says interest is up this year because of COVID-19. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

McMartin said something as simple as collecting acorns could teach kids to count, and also about biology and ecology because they can be eaten by people and animals.

“The connections are all right here.” 

The not-for-profit organization traditionally holds after school, March break and summer programs for kids. 

“We get to go on hikes in the woods. You get to carve cool stuff. I’m making a spoon right now. It’s hard, but really fun,” said Oliver, a camper who’s 9. 

Kids play a game to start their day at the Pine Project’s summer camp. (Lisa Xing/CBC)

Now, the Pine Project has received so much interest this school year it has expanded its programming to full days as parents look for solutions amid worries about the pandemic. 

“We’re opening up more programs because we’re hearing from a lot more people,” McMartin said.

For McMartin, the pandemic wasn’t his preferred method of drawing more attention to his cause, but he’s excited about more parents wanting to get their kids involved. 

“It’s building resilience, building physical health, their mental health, creating problem solving skills and positive approaches to facing challenges.” 

‘Unprecedented times’

For the Forest School Canada, the professional learning arm of the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, the pandemic provides the perfect opportunity for teachers to explore adapting their lessons to outdoor settings. 

“These really are unprecedented times,” said manager Petra Eperjesi, whose organization is based in Ottawa. “It’s going to require educators to change the way they teach.

  “Why not make that change to include more of the outdoors? Being outside carries mental and emotional benefits. We also see rich learning outcomes.” 

Both the Pine Project and Forest School Canada run their own programs and work with school boards and teachers to incorporate more outdoor learning into the curriculum. 

Canada’s biggest school board, the Toronto District School Board, has several dedicated Outdoor Education Centres that strive to get students outside while adhering to the Ontario curriculum. 

Its principal, David Hawker-Budlovsky, is now involved in helping teachers incorporate elements of outdoor education into their teaching. He said the school board has created a map listing parks within 100 metres of every TDSB school for teachers as a starting point. 

“It can really happen anywhere,” he told CBC’s Metro Morning

“It could be as simple as reading a book under a tree or taking a walk through your local community.”

That’s exactly what Eperjesi is hoping will happen once the school year begins. 

“We’re not advocating for everybody to move everything outside,” she said, adding it’s simply about incorporating more time outside so children can “direct the learning.”

“Does that mean that’s the only way you’ll meet the curriculum? Maybe not, and that’s okay.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Xing is a journalist by trade and a historian by degree. She’s also a creative writer, photographer and traveller. Email her at Lisa.Xing@cbc.ca.

Original Article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/outside-learning-forest-schools-covid-19-education-1.5701306

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Official Contest Rules

OFFICIAL OUTCLASS™ OUTDOOR CLASSROOM SPRING 2021 CONTEST RULES

NO PURCHASE OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.

  1. SPONSOR: The 2021 Outdoor Classroom Contest (the “Contest”) is sponsored by Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, Inc., 1452 Concession Rd 4 W, Hamilton, Ontario, L0R 2B0, Canada (the “Sponsor”). Not sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with LinkedIN, Twitter, Google, Facebook or Instagram.
  2. ELIGIBILITY: This Contest is open to child care directors (as defined below) or School Principals who are legal residents of Canada, excluding Quebec or the United States who have reached the age of majority in their province, territory or state of residence at the time of entry, with the exception of employees of the Sponsor, its parent, related and affiliated companies, subsidiaries, departments or agencies, franchisees, suppliers, advertising and promotional agencies, contest administrators, and any other parties engaged in the development, production or distribution of Contest materials and those living in the same household.  By participating in this Contest, entrants acknowledge compliance with, and agree to be bound by, these Contest Rules.  Entrants who do not comply with any of these Contest Rules are subject to disqualification by the Sponsor, in the Sponsor’s sole discretion.

 Child care directors: Child care directors for the purposes of this Contest are pre-school and childcare centre directors that supervise and lead staff in relation to the caring and teaching of children and are responsible for all aspects of their centre’s programs, which may be for either private or public school child care centres.

School Principals: Principals for the purposes of this Contest are Principals of Elementary, Middle or High Schools.

3. CONTEST DATES AND TIMES: The Contest begins on February 10th, 2021 at 1:00 a.m. ET and ends on May 15th, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. ET (the “Contest End Date”) after which time the Contest will be closed and no further entries shall be accepted.

  1. HOW TO ENTER: You can enter by visiting https://www.outdoorclassrooms.com/contest and entering your name (first and last name), facility name & address, phone number, e-mail address, digital signature, the number of children at your facility and whether or not you are part of a chain with more than one location. For this Contest, receipt of an Internet entry occurs when the Sponsor’s servers record the entry information. All entries must be complete and are subject to verification by the Sponsor, in its sole discretion.  Limit one (1) entry per childcare facility and limit one (1) entry per school.

Any attempt or suspected attempt to use robotic, automatic, programmed, or otherwise, illicit means to enter this Contest, or any other methods not authorized by these Contest Rules, for example, but not limited to, creating multiple accounts, identities, or registrations, all in the Sponsor’s sole discretion, shall be deemed as tampering and may disqualify you from entering, participating and/or winning a prize.  Entries that contain false or incomplete information are void.  Entries that are late, lost, stolen, illegible, contain false information, are damaged, misdirected, mutilated, garbled or incomplete, altered or otherwise irregular or that do not conform with or satisfy any or all of the conditions of the Contest Rules are void.  Entrants grant Sponsor a non-exclusive license to use all entries for any purpose.  No correspondence will be entered into except with selected entrants.  Proof of transmission (screenshots or captures, etc.) does not constitute proof of entry or receipt of an entry.

  1. CONTEST PRIZES:There is a (1) prize available to be won consisting of an outdoor classroom that includes; one (1) teacher station, twenty (20) student stations, one (1) outdoor double-sided chalkboard. (approximate retail value $15,000).

All winners assume any and all liability for any injury or damage caused, or claimed to be caused, by entering, participating in this promotion or use or redemption of a prize.  Prizes must be accepted as awarded and have no cash value.  Prizes or any portion thereof cannot be combined with other discounts, promotions or special offers.  Sponsor reserves the right to substitute an alternate prize of equal or greater value if an advertised prize is unavailable at time of award.

  1. ODDSOF WINNING: The odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received before the Contest End Date.
  2. SKILL TESTING QUESTION: Selected Entrants will be required, as a condition to winning a Prize, to correctly answer, without assistance of any kind, the Sponsor’s mathematical skill-testing question.
  3. WINNER SELECTION AND CONFIRMATION: On May 16th, 2021 at 3:00 p.m.ET(“Draw Date”) the Sponsor, or an employee, agent or other representative of the Sponsor, will conduct a random draw from all eligible entries (the “Selected Entrants”).  A Selected Entrant will be deemed a winner if they meet all of the eligibility criteria set out in these Contest Rules. If a Selected Entrant (or Selected Entrants) does not meet any eligibility criteria, he/she will be disqualified and will not receive a prize and another entrant may be selected by way of a random draw from the remaining eligible entries by the Sponsor. Before being declared a winner, a Selected Entrant will be required to: (i) correctly answer the Sponsor’s mathematical skill-testing question; (ii) sign and return the Sponsor’s Declaration of Eligibility and Liability/Publicity Release form (the “Release”); and (iii) comply with all other Contest Rules, all in the sole discretion of Sponsor.

Selected Entrants will be notified on May 17th, 2021 and will be contacted using the e-mail address provided at the time of entry into this Contest, in Sponsor’s sole discretion, and up to three attempts will be made to contact each Selected Entrant.  A Selected Entrant that does not or cannot accept a prize may be forfeited and a new Selected Entrant selected by random draw, in the Sponsor’s sole discretion.  A signed copy of the Sponsor’s Release must be received by the Sponsor no later than 11:59 PM on May 20th, 2021.  Sponsor is not responsible for the failure for any reason whatsoever of a Selected Entrant to receive notification or for the Sponsor to receive a Selected Entrant’s response.

Disputes regarding identity of entrant: If the identity of a Selected Entrant is disputed, the entry will be deemed to have been submitted by the Authorized Account Holder (the individual assigned to the e-mail address or, if applicable for entry, social media handle associated with the entry). Each Selected Entrant may be required to provide proof that he/she is the Authorized Account Holder associated with the selected entry.

  1. RELEASE AND INDEMNIFICATION: All potential winners must sign the Sponsor’s Release to: (i) confirm compliance with all Contest Rules; (ii) agree to accept the prize as awarded; (iii) release, discharge and hold harmless the Sponsor, its departments and agencies, parent, related and affiliated companies, subsidiaries, franchisees, advertising and promotional agencies, counsel, marketing partners, Facebook and Instagram and each of their respective directors, officers, employees, shareholders, successors, sponsors, partners, licensees, subsidiaries, agents, artists, advisors, assignees, and all others associated with the administration, development and execution of the Contest (the “Released Parties”) from and against any and all manner of action, cause of action, claim or demand, loss or injury, use or misuse of a prize or any travel related thereto, and the use of the Entry by the Sponsor, suit, debt, covenant, contract, including legal fees and expenses, whatsoever, including but not limited to, claims based on negligence, breach of contract and fundamental breach, failure of any third party contractor or supplier used in connection with any aspect of the Contest to perform or deliver any goods or services, any act of God or any other event beyond the Released Parties’ control, any dissatisfaction of any kind by a winner with any aspect of the Contest or any prize, liability for physical injury, death, or property damage which the entrants, guests, their heirs, successors or assigns have, might have or could have suffered, by reason of or arising out of the entrant’s participation in the Contest and/or in connection with the acceptance and/or exercise by the entrant of the Prize as awarded; and (iv) indemnify the Released Parties against any loss, damage or expense, including legal fees, that any of the Released Parties may suffer or incur as a result of any non-compliance by an entrant with any of the Contest Rules or participation in the Contest and/or in connection with the acceptance and/or exercise by an entrant of a prize and the use of the Entry by Sponsor.

The Sponsor is not responsible for:(i) incorrect or inaccurate entry information which may affect a person’s ability to participate in the Contest or be awarded a prize, including but not limited to human error, technical malfunctions, lost or delayed entries for any reason, mail failures, omission, or any combination thereof, and entries which fail to fully comply with these Contest Rules; (ii) technical failures of any kind, including, but not limited to malfunctions, interruptions, or disconnections in phone lines or network hardware or software; (iii) lost, incomplete, delayed, mutilated or misdirected entries or Declaration and Release forms; (iv) injury or damage to the entrant’s computer or to any other individual’s computer related to or resulting from participating in, or downloading any material regarding the Contest or accepting a prize; (v) any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Contest or receipt or use or misuse of any prize, including any travel related thereto and the use of the Entry by Sponsor;(vi) the security or privacy of information transmitted via computer networks or for breaches of privacy due to interference by third party computer “hackers” or otherwise; or (vii) late, lost, misdirected or unsuccessful efforts to notify a potential winner.

  1. OTHER CONDITIONS: The Sponsor reserves the right to terminate or amend this Contest at anytime and in any way, without prior notice. Without limiting the foregoing, if, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as originally planned for any reason, the Sponsor reserves the right to cancel the Contest and conduct a random draw from all previously received eligible entries received by the Contest End Date.

Publicity and entrant information: By participating in the Contest, entrants consent to the use of their name, address, postal code/zip code, telephone number, social media handles, comments and image, whether on videotape, photograph or any other means, as may be edited, translated or modified in any way by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, for the administration of this Contest or any publicity carried out by the Sponsor, without further notice or compensation. Entrant information may be used for marketing.

Law: The Contest is void where prohibited by law and is subject to all applicable Canadian federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and local laws. This Contest shall be governed exclusively by the laws of the province of Ontario, Canada including all issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Contest Rules, rights and obligations between entrants and the Sponsor, and procedural provisions, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules.  Any dispute shall be adjudicated by the courts sitting in Hamilton, Ontario.

Rule amendments: The Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to amend or modify these Contest Rules, or modify, cancel or suspend this Contest, without prior notice for any reason whatsoever, including without limitation in the event that any cause beyond the reasonable control of the Sponsor corrupts, or threatens to corrupt, the security or proper administration of the Contest.

Intellectual Property: All intellectual property, including but not limited to trademarks, logos, designs, promotional materials, web pages, source codes, images, drawings, illustrations, slogans and representations are owned by the Sponsor.  All rights are reserved.  Unauthorized copying or use of any copyrighted material or other intellectual property without the express written consent of the Sponsor is strictly prohibited. The Sponsor’s marketing or other partners, if any, shall also have access to and rights to reproduce, copy or otherwise use any materials generated by this Contest or any submissions or materials generated by entrants.

© Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, Inc. 2021.  All Rights Reserved.